Ruff Stuff: Jim Hayes, Hamline men's basketball coach

Jim Hayes, a Rochester Mayo 1990 graduate, just finished his fourth year as the Hamline University head men's basketball coach. Hayes' team finished 14-12, including 11-9 in the MIAC, and made the MIAC post-season tournament for the first time in six years. That was after winning just four games a season ago.

The 45-year-old Hayes is a former player at Hamline where the 6-foot-4 forward was twice named All-MIAC and was a teammate and best friend of former Mayo boys basketball coach Shaun Lang. Hayes was recently inducted into the Hamline Hall of Fame.

ls it special for you being back at Hamline?

JIM HAYES:For me, this is my dream job. I went here and I played here. This is where I wanted to be and I'm super excited to be back. I have a lot of pride in Hamline and what it did for me and how it shaped me. To be able to come back and coach for the Pipers is really satisfying. The people, the tradition and the relationships here are phenomenal. It's a very tight-knit community.

You have had a close relationship with former Mayo coach Shaun Lang since your Hamline playing days. What makes him a special guy?


JIM HAYES:Shaun is as loyal and good a friend as I've ever had. We are still the best of friends. He's such a good person and genuinely cares about your well-being. He has a passion to do well and he wants those around him to do well.

What drives you as a coach?

JIM HAYES:The competitiveness in me; that drive to be the best I can be. Every year is a new year. It's fun to see how each team takes on its own identity and how that takes shape. Seeing a group come together for a common goal is great.

You beat St. Thomas this year at their place, for the first time since 1997. The Tommies are defending national champions. What did that win do for your team?

JIM HAYES:Our conference season had started off 0-2, so it was fun to win that one. That validated to our guys that we were much better than the year before. To go on the road and beat the defending national champions was a validating win for our program. Then we followed that up with a road win at Carleton. It was a springboard for our season.

What are you predicting for next season?

JIM HAYES:We have pretty much everyone back. But nothing is going to be given to us. We were picked for dead last in this season's preseason coaches' poll. I'm excited about where our program is headed. But I'm going to need to put a lot of work this offseason.

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